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People With a Mental Health Diagnosis More Likely to Do Time in Solitary

Council on Criminal Justice - Admissible Evidence

A study found that men with mental health disorders were more likely to be placed in solitary confinement and spent more total days in such placements. The odds of being sent to solitary increased by 125% for those with serious mental illness and by 172% for those with any mental illness.

Six of the nine mental illnesses studied—bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, psychotic disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and “other” personality disorders—were significant predictors of solitary confinement, ranging from a 67% (for major depression) to a 169% (for “other” personality disorders) increase in the odds of being sent to solitary.

Researchers studied 155,018 men admitted to prisons in one large state over an eight-year period (2007-2015). All of the men were assessed for mental health conditions within the first 60 days of admission, and clinicians diagnosed roughly 10% of them (over 15,000 men) as having a mental health condition. At some point after their initial assessment, 1% of all men experienced extended solitary confinement (i.e., stays lasting several months or more).

Predictors of men with mental health diagnoses had long stays in solitary were related to safety, institutional adjustment, contraband such as weapons or drugs, fearing for one’s life and disciplinary infractions.

To read the full study, click here.

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